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McCarthy demands Schiff step down as intel chairman

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other allies of the president on Capitol Hill raced to paint the California Democrat as an overeager disciple of a theory debunked by the Justice Department. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Republicans clamored for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s head Monday, demanding he give up his gavel or resign from Congress as part of their campaign of revenge against Democrats who pursued and promoted allegations of collusion between President Donald Trump and the Russian government.

Trump and senior White House aides, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other allies of the president on Capitol Hill raced to paint the California Democrat as an overeager disciple of a theory debunked by the Justice Department in a summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings released Sunday.

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Schiff was pummeled repeatedly on Fox News and other right-leaning media during the last two days. Trump himself picked up on the anti-Schiff tirade, retweeting a “Fox and Friends” interview where the California Democrat was excoriated.

McCarthy called on Schiff to step down as Intelligence Committee chairman during an interview on Monday.

“[Schiff] owes the American public an apology,” McCarthy said. “Schiff has met the standard that he has imposed on other members of Congress of when they should step back from their positions. He has exceeded that standard, and there is no question he should step down from the Intel chairmanship.”

The GOP offensive comes as Schiff is forging ahead with a renewed congressional investigation of the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia. His committee is slated to publicly interview on Wednesday Trump associate Felix Sater about his efforts to strike a deal for a Trump Tower Moscow during the 2016 campaign. On Thursday, the committee has a second Russia-focused hearing on how the Kremlin used oligarchs and their money to influence U.S. politics in 2016.

Democrats are privately raising concerns that Americans won’t have the stomach for a new, heavily politicized Trump-Russia probe, and Republicans are seizing the momentum from the Mueller findings to lash out at Schiff. Top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway called for Schiff to resign immediately. And Donald Trump Jr. — who bristled over Schiff’s question’s after a closed-door interview with the House Intelligence Committee in 2017 — tormented him on Twitter.

“Has anyone heard from slimy Adam #fullofschiff Schiff today?” he wrote. “I mean it must be embarrassing to have have [sic] spent the last 2 years as the leader of the tinfoil hat brigade and have it all come crashing down so quick. I’m legitimately concerned for his mental state.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended Schiff on Monday, saying the reason he’s being attacked is because he’s been effective.

“Democrats aren’t going to be intimidated by the White House or Congressional Republicans, we’re not going to be distracted from securing the release of the full Mueller report and the underlying evidence, and we will continue to pursue legitimate oversight because that’s what the Constitution requires,” said Pelosi spokeswoman Ashley Etienne.

President Donald Trump

Schiff didn’t immediately respond for comment. When asked about the GOP attacks, other House Democrats defended Schiff.

“I’ll tell you what, let’s compare comments of her boss and Mr. Schiff and we’ll decide who ought to resign from office,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said, referring to Conway. “If outrage and outrageous comments are the standard, she’s got us beat by a mile.”

Schiff’s Republican colleagues, however, bludgeoned the California Democrat, describing him as one of the most eager and aggressive Democrats contending that evidence of a Trump-Russia conspiracy existed. Schiff famously indicated in 2017 that he had seen “more than circumstantial evidence” of collusion, and Republicans have been daring him since to back up the claim.

“You. Have. Been. Exposed,” said Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) in a tweet excoriating Schiff. “You used your unique position on the Intel Cmte to convince the American people that you had access to evidence of collusion. You lied and misled in order to pursue your political agenda. Move on.”

Schiff said Sunday he accepted Mueller’s finding but wanted to see the underlying evidence that led to the conclusion.

Robert Mueller

“Mueller did not find sufficient evidence to establish conspiracy, notwithstanding Russian offers to help Trump’s campaign, their acceptance, and a litany of concealed interactions with Russia” Schiff said in a statement. “I trust Mueller’s prosecutorial judgment, but the country must see the evidence.”
Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.), a member of the Intelligence Committee, strongly rejected GOP demands for Schiff to step down from his post.

“I think my Republican friends are concerned not only with their own seats, but they’re concerned about Donald Trump being a one-term president, even in light of the Mueller report,” Carson said on Monday. “So I think Chairman Schiff and others in the Democratic majority represent a threat to their very existence and the changing dynamics within the Republican Party.”

Freshman Democratic Rep. Katie Hill, a member of California’s congressional delegation with Schiff, defended him as well.

“We’ve seen really disturbing activities that have happened over the past two years so I don’t think there’s any indication to me that Adam Schiff or any of my other colleagues have said something that’s out of line,” she said.

Caitlin Oprysko contributed reporting.

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